Jesus Rodrigo-Comino, Department of Physical Geography,, Trier University, Trier, Germany, José María Senciales Gónzález, Department of Geography, University of Málaga, Málaga, Spain, Eric C. Brevik, 291 Campus Dr., Dickinson State University, Dickinson, ND, José Damián Ruiz-Sinoga, Instituto de Geomorfología y Suelos, Department of Geography, University of Málaga, Málaga, Spain and Johannes B. Ries, Physical Geography, Trier University, Trier, Germany
Soils are one of the most important environmental components that characterize viticultural areas. However, changes in human management over the last century and the increased occurrence of extreme rainfall events are introducing negative impacts on the conventional vineyards in Germany and Spain. These land degradation processes are caused by increased soil erosion and alteration of natural hydrological processes. The main reasons identified are: i) the steep slopes with inclinations from 15 to 40°; ii) soil profile disturbance during the initial plantation; iii) wheel traffic impact by heavy machinery and footprint effects before and during harvesting (in Germany); iv) excesses of overland flow and sediments, which are canalized through rills and ephemeral gullies; v) non conservative soil tillage practices in the inter-rows, which do not preserve the vegetation cover; and, vi) high silt content, which enhances sediment detachment. However, current studies on soil erosion in vineyards have not focused on measuring intra-plot differences combining soil loss, runoff and infiltration variations during different seasons (before, during or after harvesting; in summer or winter), at different slope positions (shoulder, back- and footslopes) and vineyards of different ages.
Therefore, the main goals were to assess and quantify hydrological and erosive phenomena in two vineyards during diverse seasons and under different land management conditions (Mediterranean and continental climatic contexts, machine management, traditional protection measures, etc): in the village of Waldrach (Trier, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany) and Almáchar (Málaga, Andalucía, Spain). To achieve this goal, a combined methodology with soil analysis, sediment traps, rainfall simulations and Guelph permeameter measurements was applied. The main results showed high soil erosion and similar variations in the runoff and infiltration rates. In both study areas, geomorphological and hydrological dynamics registered several spatiotemporal variations at different slope positions and during different seasons (before and after harvesting, and between the dry and humid period).